Murder in the Belltower (A Miss Underhay Mystery) by Helena Dixon

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Murder in the Belltower (A Miss Underhay Mystery) by Helena Dixon

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Buy Murder in the Belltower (A Miss Underhay Mystery) by Helena Dixon at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Crime (Historical)
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The fifth book in the series would read as a stand-alone but the plot is remarkably similar to that of the second book in the series. If you're new to the series or have read the intervening books, this might not matter. A good read if you enjoy cosy crime.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 263 Date: February 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
ISBN: 9781800190580

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In December 1933 the remains of Elowed Underhay were discovered in the cellar of the Glass Bottle Public House. Ezekiel Hamett was sought in connection with the murder of Elowed and his half-brother, Denzil Hammett, whose body was also discovered. Kitty Underhay's long search for her mother, who disappeared in June 1916 was over. Now she's determined that the man responsible for her murder will be brought to justice.

Just before Christmas Kitty sets off for Enderley Hall to visit her aunt and uncle, Lord and Lady Medford and her cousin Lucy for Christmas. She's delighted that she'll be accompanied by Alice, on temporary promotion to lady's maid and that Captain Matt Bryant will be joining her at Endeley Hall. She hasn't quite come to terms with the fact that she and Matt are officially walking out together. There's quite a house party at Enderley Hall: cousin Hattie will be there, along with Lady Medford's companion, Miss Hart, plus two Americans, Delilah and Cornelius Cornwell and Austrians Count Victor Vanderstafen and his sister, Juliet. Simon Frobisher, a botanist, is using Lady Medford's library and joins the party.

Kitty's disturbed to find that Victor and Juliet Vanderstrafen clearly know Matt Bryant. Juliet seems drawn to Matt - and he to her - but Victor clearly dislikes Matt. Kitty's uncertain if this is because of prior history - they were all in Alexandria at the same time - or because he would treat anyone who got close to Juliet in the same way. Then there's the fact that Matt's obviously hiding something.

However, Kitty is here for a rest. She's been involved in far too many murders of late and she's determined to enjoy herself. It isn't to last, though. After a minor altercation at the first evening's party, two of the guests leave early and one of them, Miss Plenderleith, is found murdered the next morning.

I found myself just a little disappointed as I started to read this book. I've had the misfortune of missing two books in the series, so the last one I read was Murder at Enderley Hall, set in June 1933. Murder in the Belltower looked set to be essentially the same story with a few different characters and added snow. I never really managed to get rid of this feeling. If you've read the two intervening books, or if you're new to the series you probably won't have this reaction - and can definitely add half a star to my rating. The book would read reasonably well as a stand-alone.

The characterisation is good: I loved Alice, the maid. She really sparkles! I want to hear more about her. The location - both the place and the time of year - are good. You get a real feel of a Christmas house party in the early thirties. The plot was neat and well written. It's cosy crime - and none the worse for that. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Helena Dixon's Miss Underhay Novels in Chronological Order

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Buy Murder in the Belltower (A Miss Underhay Mystery) by Helena Dixon at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Murder in the Belltower (A Miss Underhay Mystery) by Helena Dixon at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.

Buy Murder in the Belltower (A Miss Underhay Mystery) by Helena Dixon at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Murder in the Belltower (A Miss Underhay Mystery) by Helena Dixon at Amazon.com.

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